Last month we still had to report a significant increase in countries that were imposing entry bans or other restrictions for people who visited Ebola affected countries, and/or are nationals of Ebola affected countries. However, the past few weeks the tide seems to be turning a bit and several countries in Africa have lifted the entry bans for travelers and/or nationals from (some of) the Ebola affected countries.
Since our Blog from November 17, 2014, we have become aware of the following changes made to the Ebola related travel restrictions:
Cameroon reopened its borders for travelers from Nigeria, after having reopened it to travelers from Senegal earlier. An 18 August ban remains in place on travel from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Guinea-Bissau reopened its land border with Guinea.
Senegal reopened its air and sea borders with Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. However, the country’s land borders with Guinea remain closed.
Seychelles has removed entry restrictions on travelers from Guinea-Bissau and Nigeria. Entry for travelers who have visited Congo (DRC), Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone 28 days prior to their journey, with the exception of Seychellois citizens, was suspended 8 October and remains suspended.
Sierra Leone’s government on 1 December began preventing people from entering or leaving Tonkolili district (Northern province) in an effort to control the spread of Ebola. The measure has remained in place until at least 15 December – we have not received confirmation if it has been lifted as planned, or might still be in place. During the mentioned period, the borders of the district were sealed and the authorities conducted a door-to-door awareness-raising campaign within the area. Visitors were not allowed into the district, though vehicles passing through it were allowed to enter, provided they did not stop anywhere in Tonkolili.
The United States announced that from 17 November, travelers from Mali would be subject to the same health screening measures that are currently in place for those travelling from other Ebola-affected countries: passengers beginning their travels in Guinea, Liberia, Mali or Sierra Leone will only be able to enter the country through the following airports: JFK International Airport (JFK, New York state), Newark International Airport (EWR, New Jersey), Dulles International Airport (IAD, Washington, DC), Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL, Georgia) or Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD, Illinois). In addition, all travelers from Guinea, Liberia, Mali and Sierra Leone will be actively monitored for 21 days by public health authorities.
Note as well that the Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, announced the designation of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months, from Friday, November 21, 2014. Eligible nationals from these three countries who are residing in the United States as of November 20, 2014 may apply for TPS with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) between November 21, 2014 and May 20, 2015. TPS is a temporary immigration benefit that does not lead to lawful permanent resident status or give any other immigration status. However, foreign nationals who are granted TPS status cannot be removed from the US, may obtain travel authorization and can obtain (temporary) employment authorization.
Information contained in this Blog was prepared using information obtained from International SOS (16 December 2014), Travel restrictions, flight operations and screening, retrieved here and from Mintz Levin.